USDA Announces Release Of Interim Hemp Rules

USDA hemp rule
Image: USDA via Twitter

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced the USDA has published the rule establishing the nation’s Domestic Hemp Production Program.

The 2018 Farm Bill required USDA to create regulations and guidelines to establish and administer a program for the production of hemp in the country.

“We’d said we’d get it done in time for producers to make planning decisions for 2020 – and we’ve followed through,” said Mr. Purdue.

The interim final rule is to be published in the Federal Register this week – a preview of the rule can be viewed here. At 161 pages, it’s a lengthy read. The interim rule will become effectively immediately on publication in the Federal Register and will be active for 730 days from that date.

Its publication will be followed by a public comment period that will last for 60 days.

“At  USDA, we’re always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets,” said Mr. Purdue.

However, he also strongly advised those interested in jumping on the hemp bandwagon to do their due diligence – as potentially great rewards are also usually accompanied by great risk. Some U.S farmers who have turned their hand to growing hemp this year haven’t been all that successful. Some of those who have enjoyed success in cultivating hemp are having trouble selling it.

USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service will be providing additional information resources and educational opportunities on the new program.

The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomed news of the interim rule.

“This interim final rule provides clarity to producers on everything from crop insurance, THC testing methods, crop destruction protocols, to interstate commerce,” said Scott Bennett, congressional relations director at AFBF.

States and tribes with their own plans for hemp will need to submit those to the USDA for approval. Once a plan is approved, producers in the relevant jurisdiction will be eligible for USDA programs, including crop insurance coverage through Whole-Farm Revenue Protection.  For states without a USDA-approved plan, the Department has produced a Federal plan that will apply in states that will allow hemp production.